Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 116

By Joseph Benson


Verse 1-2
Psalms 116:1-2. I love the Lord — Hebrew, I love, because the Lord hath heard my voice. “The soul, transported with gratitude and love, seems, at first, to express her affection without declaring its object, as thinking that all the world must know who is the person intended. Thus Mary Magdalene, at the sepulchre, though no previous mention had been made of Jesus, says to one, whom she thought to be the gardener, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, &c. John 20:15. And ought not the love of God to be excited in all our hearts by the consideration, that when we were not able to raise ourselves up to him, he mercifully and tenderly inclined and bowed down his ear to us?” — Horne. Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live — Hebrew, בימי אקרא, bejamai ekra, in my days, that is, as long as I have a day to live, as this phrase is used 2 Kings 20:19; Isaiah 39:8.

Verse 3-4
Psalms 116:3-4. The sorrows of death compassed me — Dangerous and deadly calamities as bitter as death: Hebrew, חבלי מות, cheblee maveth, the cords, or bands of death: see note on Psalms 18:4-5. The pains of hell — Or of the grave, or of death; either cutting, killing pains, or such agonies and horrors as dying persons often feel within themselves; gat hold upon me — Hebrew, מצאוני, found me, that is, surprised me. Having been long pursuing me, at last they overtook and seized upon me, and I gave up myself for lost. Then called I upon the name of the Lord — Being brought to the last extremity, I made use of this, not as the last remedy, but as the old and only remedy which I had found, a balm for every wound.

Verse 5-6
Psalms 116:5-6. Gracious is the Lord — Therefore he will maintain my just cause against my unrighteous oppressors, will perform his promises, and save those who faithfully serve and trust in him. The Lord preserveth the simple — That is, those who are upright and sincere, and make use of no crafty arts or counsels, no indirect or unlawful means for their deliverance; who, as the original word implies, depend wholly upon God, as little children do upon their parents. I was brought low — Plunged into the depth of distress and misery; and he helped me — Patiently to bear what was laid upon me, and to hope for deliverance at the proper time.

Verse 7-8
Psalms 116:7-8. Return unto thy rest, O my soul — Unto that tranquillity of mind, and cheerful confidence in God’s providence and promises, which thou didst once enjoy. Repose thyself in God; seek not for that rest in the creature which is to be found only in the Creator. God is thy rest; in him only canst thou dwell at ease; to him therefore thou must retire. For the Lord hath dealt bountifully, &c. — Hath many ways expressed his bounty most liberally to thee, and provided sufficiently for thy comfort and refreshment. Thou hast delivered my soul — Myself; from death — From threatening and approaching death; or from spiritual death, the death of sin, and from eternal death, the death of hell. Thou hast caused me to pass from death unto life. Mine eyes from tears — That is, my heart, from inordinate grief. When God comforts those that are cast down, when he looses the mourners’ sackcloth, and girds them with gladness, then he delivers their eyes from tears; which yet will not be perfectly done till we come to that world where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, And my feet from failing — Namely, from falling into sin, and so into misery.

Verse 9
Psalms 116:9. I will walk — Hebrew, אתהלךְ, ethhalleck, I will set myself to walk; before the Lord — I determine, in the strength of divine grace, to set him before me; to live as in his presence, and as under his eye; to speak and act in a manner becoming his presence, and the relation in which I stand to him as his servant and worshipper, his son and heir; to walk worthy of him unto all pleasing. It is the psalmist’s promise and resolution, in return for the blessings acknowledged in the preceding verse. In the land of the living — Among living men in this world. Observe, reader, the land of the living is a land of mercy, which we ought to be very thankful for; it is a land of opportunity, which we ought to improve; and the consideration that we are in this land should engage and quicken us to walk before God.

Verse 10
Psalms 116:10. I have believed — God’s promise of deliverance; therefore have I spoken — What I have now said; or, I have firmly believed, and trusted in God’s almighty power, and ever watchful providence, and therefore have addressed my prayer unto him with confidence in my greatest dangers and distresses. In this, or a similar sense, this clause is quoted by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:13, with application to himself and his fellow-ministers, who, though they were exposed everywhere to sufferings for Christ’s sake, and were even in danger of being put to death wherever they came; yet were neither ashamed nor afraid to own him, because they confided in the promise he had made them of a blessed resurrection.

Verse 11
Psalms 116:11. I said in my haste — Yet once, I confess, I spoke very unadvisedly, through precipitation of mind, for want of due consideration, as the same phrase, בחפזי, bechophzi, is used Psalms 31:22. It may, however, be rendered, in my terror, or amazement, that is, when I was discomposed, and almost distracted with the greatness of my troubles. All men are liars — There is no credit to be given to their promises of deliverance; I am lost and undone. Thus understood, he questions the truth of God’s promises, yet so that he does not reflect directly on God, but only on the instrument by whom the promises were declared. Some render the clause, All men are a lie, or lies, are vain, a thing of nothing, a mere phantom without any solidity; all human help fails me; so that my case is desperate if God do not help me.

Verses 12-14
Psalms 116:12-14. What shall I render unto the Lord — Yet, notwithstanding all my dangers, and my distrust of God also, he hath conferred so many and great blessings upon me, that I can never make sufficient returns to him for them. I will take the cup of salvation — Or of deliverance, as Bishop Patrick renders ישׁועות, thus interpreting the clause: “I will call my friends together to rejoice with me, and taking the cup, which we call the cup of deliverance, (because, when blessed and set apart, we are thus wont to commemorate the blessings we have received,) I will magnify the power, goodness, and faithfulness of God my Saviour before all the company.” The phrase is doubtless taken from the common practice of the Jews in their thank-offerings, in which a feast was made of the remainder of the sacrifices, and the offerers, together with the priests, did eat and drink before the Lord; and among other rites, the master of the feast took a cup of wine into his hand, and solemnly blessed God for it, and for the mercy which was then acknowledged, and then gave it to all the guests, who drank successively of it. According to Dr. Hammond, this cup, among the Jews, was two-fold; one offered in a more solemn manner in the temple, Numbers 28:7, the other more private in families, called the cup of thanksgiving, or commemoration of any deliverance received. This the master of the family was wont to begin, and was followed by all his guests. On festival days it was attended with a suitable hymn, such as that sung by our Lord and his disciples on the night when he advanced that cup into the sacrament of his blood, which hath ever since been to Christians the cup of salvation; and which all penitents should now receive in the church of Christ, with invocation, thanksgiving, and payment of their vows made in time of trouble.

Verse 15
Psalms 116:15. Precious, &c., is the death of his saints — He sets a high price upon it: he will not easily grant it to the will of their enemies. If any son of violence procure it, he will make him pay very dearly for it. And when the saints suffer it for God’s sake, as they frequently do, it is a most acceptable sacrifice to him, and highly esteemed by him. Thus the blood of God’s people is said to be precious in his sight, Psalms 72:14. And in the same sense the life of a man is said to be precious in the eyes of him who spares and preserves it, 1 Samuel 26:21; 2 Kings 1:13. God’s people are precious in his eyes both living and dying, for, whether they live, they live unto the Lord, or whether they die, they die unto the Lord, Romans 14:8.

Verse 16
Psalms 116:16. O Lord, truly I am thy servant — This is a thankful acknowledgment of his great obligations to God, whereby he was in duty bound to be his perpetual servant. The son of thy handmaid — The son of a mother who was devoted, and did devote me to thy service. Thou hast loosed my bonds — Thou hast rescued me from my enemies, whose captive and vassal I was, and therefore hast a just right to me and to my service.


Book Navigation Title Page Table of Contents Argument Introduction ► Chapter 1 ► Chapter 2 ► Chapter 3 ► Chapter 4 ► Chapter 5 ► Chapter 6 ► Chapter 7 ► Chapter 8 ► Chapter 9 ► Chapter 10 ► Chapter 11 ► Chapter 12 ► Chapter 13 ► Chapter 14 ► Chapter 15 ► Chapter 16 ► Chapter 17 ► Chapter 18 ► Chapter 19 ► Chapter 20 ► Chapter 21 ► Chapter 22 ► Chapter 23 ► Chapter 24 ► Chapter 25 ► Chapter 26 ► Chapter 27 ► Chapter 28 ► Chapter 29 ► Chapter 30 ► Chapter 31 ► Chapter 32 ► Chapter 33 ► Chapter 34 ► Chapter 35 ► Chapter 36 ► Chapter 37 ► Chapter 38 ► Chapter 39 ► Chapter 40 ► Chapter 41 ► Chapter 42 ► Chapter 43 ► Chapter 44 ► Chapter 45 ► Chapter 46 ► Chapter 47 ► Chapter 48 ► Chapter 49 ► Chapter 50 ► Chapter 51 ► Chapter 52 ► Chapter 53 ► Chapter 54 ► Chapter 55 ► Chapter 56 ► Chapter 57 ► Chapter 58 ► Chapter 59 ► Chapter 60 ► Chapter 61 ► Chapter 62 ► Chapter 63 ► Chapter 64 ► Chapter 65 ► Chapter 66 ► Chapter 67 ► Chapter 68 ► Chapter 69 ► Chapter 70 ► Chapter 71 ► Chapter 72 ► Chapter 73 ► Chapter 74 ► Chapter 75 ► Chapter 76 ► Chapter 77 ► Chapter 78 ► Chapter 79 ► Chapter 80 ► Chapter 81 ► Chapter 82 ► Chapter 83 ► Chapter 84 ► Chapter 85 ► Chapter 86 ► Chapter 87 ► Chapter 88 ► Chapter 89 ► Chapter 90 ► Chapter 91 ► Chapter 92 ► Chapter 93 ► Chapter 94 ► Chapter 95 ► Chapter 96 ► Chapter 97 ► Chapter 98 ► Chapter 99 ► Chapter 100 ► Chapter 101 ► Chapter 102 ► Chapter 103 ► Chapter 104 ► Chapter 105 ► Chapter 106 ► Chapter 107 ► Chapter 108 ► Chapter 109 ► Chapter 110 ► Chapter 111 ► Chapter 112 ► Chapter 113 ► Chapter 114 ► Chapter 115 ► Chapter 116 ► Chapter 117 ► Chapter 118 ► Chapter 119 ► Chapter 120 ► Chapter 121 ► Chapter 122 ► Chapter 123 ► Chapter 124 ► Chapter 125 ► Chapter 126 ► Chapter 127 ► Chapter 128 ► Chapter 129 ► Chapter 130 ► Chapter 131 ► Chapter 132 ► Chapter 133 ► Chapter 134 ► Chapter 135 ► Chapter 136 ► Chapter 137 ► Chapter 138 ► Chapter 139 ► Chapter 140 ► Chapter 141 ► Chapter 142 ► Chapter 143 ► Chapter 144 ► Chapter 145 ► Chapter 146 ► Chapter 147 ► Chapter 148 ► Chapter 149 ► Chapter 150